Psittacus Erithacus Timneh
-There are two sub-species of African greys (Psittacus Erithacus), the Congo african grey, (psittacus erithacus erithacus) and the Timneh african grey (psittacus erithacus timneh). The congo is the larger of the two, (about 475 grams) with an all black beak, and bright red tail feathers. It is also the most common of the two sub-species. The timneh is smaller (around 300 grams) with duller, maroon tail feathers, and a horn colored upper mandible (top of the beak).
-I find that there is no difference in talking ability between the two sub-species, but that the timnehs tend not to be as highstrung as the congos, and a bit more mischievious and playful. If there are young children in the house, and you must get a grey, I would opt for a timneh.
-Greys need a diet higher in fat, calcium, and vitamin A than many other parrots. It is recommended that you feed a formulated diet specifically for greys, or supliment their food with fruit and veggies particularly high in these things. Dark leafy greens, and orange fruit and veggies are a great choice. Think spinach and sweet potatoes! A great favorite of my birds, and one that is very rich in vitamin A is red chilles. They love them!
-Greys need daily baths, to keep their feathers in top condition (they produce A LOT of feather dander, similar to, but not quite as bad as, cockatoos) I find that my birds get very cranky if they don't get a daily bath, so perhaps it keeps their mental state in top condition too. I find that with greys, a gental spritzing or shower works best, most don't like an actual 'bird bath'.
-Greys need a lot of attention. I find that my birds prefer to have interaction, with actual "cuddling" that is to say, they prefer to be on a table or on the floor, with me playing with them, but not petting them. Louis does enjoy a good head scratch every night however. They seem to be fine on a T-stand or cage top, as long as you're talking to them. They are not clingy like a cockatoo. I think atleast an hour of uninterupted "together time" a day is necessary, as well as several hours of play time where they can see you, and talk to you, but not necessarily play on you, is needed to keep these guys happy. For example, Louis actually prefers to be in his cage for most of the day, as long as he can hear me, and I talk to him. As soon as he calls to me and I don't respond, he starts crying.
-Greys can live a LONG time. Up to sixty years. That's longer than most people purchasing a grey can expect to live after they get him. Therefor, before you buy a grey, make provision for what will happen to the bird after you're gone. It's not fair to the bird if for forty years he's been in one home, with one owner, and all of a sudden, he's with a complete stranger.
-Remember, greys always give back 100 times the love that you put into them. They can be a lot of work, but they are worth it!
If you ever have any doubts that your bird can understand your conversations, just look at the research of Dr. Irene Pepperberg. For the last 25 years, she's worked with ALEX the African Grey, researching the cognitive abilities of parrots. Her findings show that greys learn and understand at nearly the same level as a five year old child, with the emotional understanding of a three year old child. Don't ever sell your bird short!
-Amazons are extremly long lived birds. Most have a life expectancy of over sixty years.
-They are prone to obesity, because of the fact that they love to eat, and it is very hard to meet an amazons exercise needs in captivity. They must be provided with a very large cage, or plenty of free time on a play gym, to work off their extra energy.
-Orange winged amazons are not known to possess the talking abilities of their larger cousins, but they are still usually much better talkers than most other species of parrot. They are known to apprentice themselves to another bird, and learn that birds vocabulary.
-Amazons are well known for their voices. Most will have twice daily "singing" sessions. One to great the dawn, another to announce dusk. Their voices carry great distances, so if you have sensitive neighbours, perhaps you should consider a smaller, quieter parrot.
-Around the time that they hit sexual maturity, some amazons, especially males, may go through a tempermental stage. However, this is easy to avoid, with plenty of step up drills, and creating a loving, trusting relationship when the bird is still very young.